Sample: ''There is a story that circulates in New
Zealand, that one of the recent All Black captains was
finished from the moment he appeared on the national evening
news fielding a call on his mobile phone while in a rugby
dressing room. It painted him as 'just another Aucklander
yuppie scum' in the words of one New Zealand journalist, and
his captaincy never recovered.''
The setting: The rugby fields, lawyers' offices and
union headquarters of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
during the incredible period in 1995-96 when the
establishment nearly lost control of the sport.
The protagonists: Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer, Louis
Luyt, Jock Hobbs, Ross Turnbull, Geoff Levy, Francois Pienaar
and hundreds of other rugger types.
Why it is brilliant: Because it's different. Because
there's never been a rugby book quite like it. Because it's
still an incredibly exciting yarn, 16 years after it all went
down. And because Fitzsimons is a great storyteller. The
World Rugby Corporation failed to fly, but the preparation
for take-off is an absorbing yarn.
Don't just take my word for it: ''The rugby story of
the decade.'' - Murray Deaker.
The aftermath: The book was re-released in 2003.
Fitzsimons has been a prolific author in recent years,
churning out books on rugby, war and great Australians. As
for the sport of rugby, well, it's into the teenage years in
terms of professionalism: still has some issues but will
eventually mature. Is it much less of a circus than the WRC
would have been? Hmmm.